The idea that Harold could kill someone was completely ridiculous. I knew this. I did. Yet, the longer I thought about it, the less sure I was becoming.
I thought back to the cocktail party at Mr. Jib’s house. We’d arrived around six to his lavish estate, Harold looking dapper in a slick tuxedo and I in a floor skimming down that dazzled as I exited the car. The party was in full swing as we entered through the enormous front doors. Several servers offered us champagne flutes from trays they carried. We smiled and accepted.
Mr. Jib lit up as we approached through the crowd and greeted us warmly.
“Harold, such a pleasure you could make it,” he said, shaking Harold’s hand firmly. “And, this must be your wife.” He regarded me with sparkling chestnut eyes.
I offered him my hand. “Millie. I’m very pleased to meet you finally. Harold’s told me so much about you.” Mr. Jib was Harold’s boss down at the steel mill.
“All good things I assume.”
I grinned a little. “Of course.”
Harold stares at our entwined hands before I clear my throat and Mr. Jib lets go. I shuffled back a step and leaned into Harold’s side. Harold forced a smile onto his face. “Thanks for inviting us.”
“You’re welcome. I hope you enjoy that party,” Mr. Jib said as we melted into the crowd.
“Let’s dance,” Harold suggested, grabbing my glass and setting it down in a nearby table along with his. He led us to the middle of the floor and proceeded to guide us through the waltz. The music was enchanting and we spun around the floor between other couples for what seemed like hours.
A tap on his shoulder had Harold turning around.
“Mind if I cut in?” Mr. Jib grinned.
Harold’s face took on a light red shade but seeing at Mr. Jib was his boss, he decided letting him have one dance with his wife was alright. “Fine,” he grunted before dropping my hands and walking off the floor.
“Mr. Jib,” I smiled.
“Please, call me Sam,” he laughed, taking up Harold’s position and leading us around the floor in a flurry of spins and foot work. It felt like I was flying. “So, what do you do for work?”
“Well, I’m a secretary. I type memos, fetch coffee, records notes…” I flush lightly as I notice Sam’s eyes remain focused on my face as I speak. I avert my eyes, staring down at his chest, at the pocket square protruding from his breast pocket. “Enough about me. Harold tells me you’re considering a merger with the rival steel mill?”
“Yes. It’s all good business sense. Tell me, how did a fine looking gal like you end up with ol’ stick in the mud Harold?” His tone is joking, a flash of gleaming teeth visible between his parted lips.
“We were high school sweethearts, married for seven years this March.”
“How very romantic,” Sam said without much enthusiasm. He dipped me suddenly and in a rush I was nearly upside down. He pulled me back up and wrapped his arms around my waist. “I could show you real romance.”
“I beg your—“
He leaned in close to my ear and we rocked back and forth. “You’ve been stuck with the same guy. Boring, serious Harold for years. Don’t you wonder what you’re missing? What I could show you?”
“Mr. Jib, I don’t know what you think—“
He tilted down suddenly and kissed my cheek. I bolted from his grasp and bumped into a couple behind me. Harold barrelled through the crowd and grabbed hold of Mr. Jib’s lapels.
“Do not touch my wife again!” he shouted, the music drowning out the gasps around us.
“We were just dancing, weren’t we?” Mr. Jib asked innocently, his eyes darting to me.
“Don’t talk to her. I saw what you did. If you touch her again I swear I’ll… I’ll…”
Mr. Jib chuckled, pulling Harold’s hands from his jacket. “You’ll what?”
Harold looks down at his hands, then slowly back up to Mr. Jib. “I’ll kill you.”
I stepped forward, clutching Harold’s shoulders. “Harold! Don’t say such things.”
Mr. Jib appeared amused at Harold’s sudden bravery. “You keep that spark of bravado and you might just be able to hold onto your wife. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have guests.” He departed, though not before offering me a wink.
Harold was practically vibrating with anger.
“Come, Harold, let’s go. He didn’t mean any harm, he was just drunk.”
“I meant what I said,” he whispered as we exited the party.
“Sure you did. Let’s just go home and forget the whole thing,” I said. “I’ll make us some tea and we’ll watch the Ed Sullivan show. You like that show.”
I’d thought everything was forgotten, but a few weeks later, Harold came home happier than usual. He threw his lunchbox down on the kitchen table and kissed me.
“You’re home early, dear.”
“Yeah, they let us out early. There was an accident at the mill.”
I turn to him, sliding on a pair of oven mitts to retrieve the casserole from the oven. “That’s terrible, what happened?”
Harold opens today’s newspaper as he sits down at the table, flipping to the sports section. “It was Mr. Jib. He was up on the catwalk surveying the progress of a new shipment when he slipped and fell at least thirty feet.”
I freeze with me hands half way inside the oven. “Is he going to be alright?”
Harold flips the page. “He’d dead. Enough about that, when’s dinner going to be ready?”
It takes me a moment to respond. “Half an hour.”
“Call me when it’s ready,” he says, jumping up from the table and tossing the newspaper down. “I’m going to take nap.” He heads up the stairs, whistling a tune.
I stare after him. He…. Couldn’t have, could he? I shake my head and grin a little. No, not of course not. Mr. Jib was right when he said Harold was a stick in the mud, boring, and serious. Harold wouldn’t have the gall to do something that rash.
I chuckle to myself, crossing the kitchen to empty Harold’s lunchbox. When I open it I find something peculiar. Beneath the apple and half eaten sandwich is a pocket square. A red pocket square. I hold it up to my face and examine it. Mr. Jib wore a pocket square exactly like this one the night of the cocktail party.
I drop the pocket square and brace a hand against the table for balance. He did it. He really did it. Do I turn him in to the police?
He did it for me, because I mean so much to him. He couldn’t bare for another man to put his hands on me. It was for love. A crime of passion. A smile starts to spread across my face. He loves me.
With that, I return to preparing dinner. Harold’s getting his favourite dessert tonight.